Tim Cook's claim Hong Kong app was 'used maliciously to target individual officers for violence' sounds like BS, say Apple watchers

Apple can't seem to figure out how to kowtow to China without losing face in the US. Read the rest

Americans lack basic digital security and privacy knowledge, survey finds

Most U.S. adults answer fewer than half questions correctly on digital know-how quiz, and many struggle with cybersecurity and privacy

Nobel Prize in Chemistry split 3 ways for lithium-ion battery research

From left: Akira Yoshino, Dr. M. Stanley Whittingham and Dr. John Goodenough (Charles Dharapak / Yoshiaki Sakamoto / Kyodo News / Binghamton University)

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to three scientists whose work developing lithium-ion batteries made mobile phones, iPads, laptops, and electric cars possible.

The three recipients are U.S. engineer John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham of the U.K., and Akira Yoshino of Japan. They will share the 9 million Swedish kronor ($906,000) prize awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Read the rest

Trump: 'Digital is becoming a very big factor in the world'

Trump signs US trade deal with Japan

Congress antitrust probe asks Spotify for Apple abuse info

Lawmakers in Congress want Spotify to detail its allegations of abuses by digital rival Apple as part of a federal antitrust probe, reports Reuters late on Friday citing two anonymous sources. Read the rest

Lawyers for Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes want to quit

Elizabeth Holmes continues to struggle.

ABC7:

According to our media partner, the Mercury News, Holmes' lawyers have asked a judge to let them quit the case. They're claiming Holmes is not paying them. "Ms. Holmes has not paid Cooley for any of its work as her counsel of record in this action for more than a year," lawyers Stephen Neal, John Dwyer and Jeffrey Lombard said in the filing obtained by the newspaper. "Further, given Ms. Holmes's current financial situation, Cooley has no expectation that Ms. Holmes will ever pay it for its services as her counsel."

Read the rest

Look at this amazing "shirt-pocket" sound movie camera from 1976

Steve Hines designed this 5-oz. shirt-pocket sound movie camera for Kodak Research Laboratories in 1976. His website has photos and information about the device, which was far ahead of its time.

Image: Hineslab

[via Evil Mad Scientist] Read the rest

Boston Dynamic's robot dog is now for sale

Spot, the robot dog from Boston Dynamics, is now for sale. Sort of. From IEEE Spectrum:

But don’t pull out your credit card just yet. Spot may cost as much as a luxury car, and it is not really available to consumers. The initial sales, described as an “early adopter program,” is targeting businesses. Boston Dynamics wants to find customers in select industries and help them deploy Spots in real-world scenarios.

“What we’re doing is the productization of Spot,” Boston Dynamics CEO Marc Raibert tells IEEE Spectrum. “It’s really a milestone for us going from robots that work in the lab to these that are hardened for work out in the field.”

Read the rest

IBM unveils new 53-qubit quantum computer

The largest universal quantum computer available for external use will delivered in October 2019, IBM announced today. Read the rest

Why CRTs are great for modern video games

Photo of CRT monitor and an old CRT Macintosh

First it was vinyl, then it was cassette tapes -- now the latest old media that's being praised for offering warmer, richer, higher-quality experiences? Read the rest

I talk about punch cards, AI and "CODERS" with Joel Spolsky

Image with the photos of CliveThompson and Joel Spolsky

Earlier this summer I stopped by the office of Joel Spolsky, CEO of Stack Overflow, the mammoth forum for software developers, to talk about my new book Coders, which is all about the subculture of programmers and their impact on reality. (And which you can acquire right here folks, step right up.)

We were supposed to talk about coding but at first got totally sidetracked when I noticed Joel had a huge archive of issues of OMNI, so we spent 15 minutes excitedly babbling about the role that magazine played in our nerd youths. (They even hunted down some of the original ads for Heathkit robots.)

When we finally got around to talking about the culture of software creation, it was pretty fun, and they transcribed parts of our talk. Here's Joel talking about how he originally got into coding:

Clive: What was your original pathway into coding?

Joel: My parents were professors at the University of New Mexico, and the University bought a mainframe and didn’t know what do with it. They gave every professor an account. And the professors gave those to their kids.

So I was part of a group of teenage kids just hanging around the computer center trying to figure stuff out.

Clive: So what was it, FORTRAN?

Joel: It had an interactive operating system because those had gotten trendy at universities. They had an interactive terminal system that had BASIC, FORTRAN, and PL1. Many, many years later I realized there was no way they had enough memory for three compilers and in fact what they had was a very simple pre-processsor that made Basic, Fortan, and PL1 all look like the same mush.

Read the rest

Google hit with demands for detailed ad business info from Texas and other states

PHOTO: Shutterstock. TX AG Ken Paxton, shown here, is leading nationwide probe into Google.

The Texas attorney general today issued a 29-page civil investigative demand with more than 200 directives for Google to provide detailed information on its ad business. The deadline is October 9. Read the rest

Right-wing troll complains about how hard he has it

Having managed to be so vile as to be kicked off Twitter, a darling of the white supremacy market complains about how hard it is to be him.

Vice:

The provocateur made no mention of the harassment that landed him in social media jail. Nor did he touch on being forced out of Breitbart the following year, after he made comments that seemed to endorse pedophilia.

While Telegram allows Yiannopoulos to share such important commentary with more than 19,000 followers directly, it does not offer the mass reach of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The same goes for Gab and other social networks set up in protest of Big Tech’s increasingly aggressive content-moderation efforts.

“I can’t find anyone who’s managing to grow a really big channel here,” wrote Yiannopoulos, whose Telegram posts typically reach around 2,000 pairs of eyeballs. “Everyone is hitting a wall. There’s no future to Telegram for social media refugees if this is the best it gets.”

Read the rest

Candy Chemistry. You know, for kids!

This Candy Chemistry set is a great way to learn about candy with your kid, in the kitchen. Do not, however, leave your kid alone with this Candy Chemistry set.

Learn all about candy, and temperature control, in your own kitchen. This kit comes with almost everything you'll need to make quite a few delicious treats, all posed as science experiments. This is what makes cooking fun, for me and I hope it'll inspire other kids to learn to cook!

Leaving a 12-year-old alone with this can create a huge mess in the kitchen, and should the child be so daring, burnt sugar all over the place.

Candy Chemistry by Thames & Kosmos via Amazon Read the rest

The Microwriter, a tiny chording word processor from 1984

Photo by Bill Buxton of the Microwriter

Back in the 80s, the inventor Cy Enfield created this fascinating device -- a six-button "Microwriter" where you'd chord combos of buttons to produce the entire alphabet, letting you jot down notes on the go.

Microsoft's Bill Buxton calls it "the world’s first portable digital word processor" (the front-page photo for this post is from Buxton's hardware collection) and Open Culture wrote a terrific piece about the Microwriter a few years ago, citing from a 1984 interview Enfield did with NPR, discussing his "aha" moment:

“It occurred to me that ... it would be possible to combine a set of signals from separate keys, and therefore you could reduce the total number of keys. But, of course, this involved the learning of chords… difficult to memorize… But how do you make these chords memorable? And, one day, staring at a sheet of paper on which I was drawing a set of five keys in sort of the arch formed by the finger ends, it occurred to me, ah! if I press the thumb key, and the index finger key, anybody can do this just listening now, press your thumb key and your index finger down and you’ll see that a vertical line joins those two finger ends, a short vertical line. There is an equivalence between that short vertical line and one letter of the alphabet. It’s the letter “I.”

Buxton's site has some scans of the gorgeous user's manual, including this one:

There are chording keyboards these days, most notably the Twiddler, and stenography tech. Read the rest

Watch the PuppetMaster, a robotic puppeteer, control marionettes

ETH Zurich engineers demonstrated a system enabling a robot to control a marionette. Although a robotic puppeteer is pretty damn cool, that's not the point of the research.

"Our long term goal is to enable robots to manipulate various types of complex physical systems – clothing, soft parcels in warehouses or stores, flexible sheets and cables in hospitals or on construction sites, plush toys or bedding in our homes, etc – as skillfully as humans do," they write in their technical paper. "We believe the technical framework we have set up for robotic puppeteering will also prove useful in beginning to address this very important grand-challenge."

(via IEEE Spectrum)

Read the rest

Trailer for new documentary series about Bill Gates

Inside Bill's Brain: Decoding Bill Gates is a new three-part documentary that premieres on September 20. It's directed by Davis Guggenheim who produced An Inconvenient Truth and directed Waiting for Superman.

"When I thought about topics to cover, I knew I didn’t want to make a promotional piece about his work," Guggenheim said. "Instead, I opted to focus on the tougher, more complex problems that nobody wants to think about, like sanitation and nuclear energy. Bill chose to take these issues on, even knowing that he might fail, and I had an instinct that seeing him wrestle with these intractable and frustrating problems would reveal something interesting about him as a person.”

It'll be interesting to see how warts-and-all the documentary really is (or isn't). Read the rest

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